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Sculptures > Wood > An Ingratiating Feeling of Tranquil Contentment
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An Ingratiating Feeling of Tranquil Contentment

An Ingratiating Feeling of Tranquil Contentment

An Ingratiating Feeling of Tranquil Contentment

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South Indian Temple Wood Carving

3.6 ft X 1.7 ft X 0.6 ft
19.1 Kg
Item Code:
$995.00   Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
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Viewed 4413 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
This well-endowed woman with opulent breasts and luxuriant hips sways curvaceously, her body movement complementing the lush rotundity of her own form. Her magnified size in proportion to the two secondary figures at her feet makes her of Amazonian proportions, indicating her celestial rather than terrestrial nature. While her form is clearly idealized, the leaves and fruits of the vegetation framing the composition are much realistically rendered. Indeed, a voluptuous maiden under a flowering tree has remained a favourite motif with Indian sculptors since antiquity. They are a natural choice to symbolize fecundity and plenitude. In Indian literature, a woman is frequently said to bend under the weight of her breasts, just as the tree does under its own fruit.

What gains the special attention of the viewer here is the astounding amount of jewelry ornamenting her body. According to the Indian aesthetic, adorning the visible, material body satisfies a universal longing for the embellishment of its intangible counterpart, namely the human spirit.

Complementary to such thought is the conventional view where the graceful form of a woman is said to epitomize the ideal beauty and mystery inherent in nature. Thus befittingly each and every part of the feminine physique including the head, torso, limbs, and between the appended parts - have consistently been used to support ornaments, often in ingenious ways. The Indian idea being that only things covered with ornaments are beautiful. Poetry must overflow with rhetorical ornaments (alamkara), metaphors, alliterations, and other musical effects. The verb alam-kara, "to adorn, to decorate," means literally "to make enough": for the simple appearance without ornament is "not enough"; it is poor, disgraceful, shocking, except in the case of an ascetic. Hence the stress on adornment of the women, who are but the poetry of nature.Also, it was believed that just as a woman beautifies her home so should she her body. Such a combination was supposed to invite blessings and prosperity from the gods.

Thus is her sensual form bedecked here with karn-phools (flower-earrings) and numerous anklets, armlets and bracelets. Her hair too is parted in neat coils with the long tika diving it into two. In addition, her small neck (incised with three curving lines, signifying that her speech is as sweet as the sonorous sound of a conch-shell) is adorned with a large number of collars (chokers) and long necklaces, one of which cascades down the cleft between her bare breasts, crowned with well-defined nipples. In ancient times, a woman, with her necklaces resting on her full breasts was compared to a sloping hill with a sunlit cascade coursing down its sides.

Such ornamentation not only serves to please the eyes of the beholder but also fulfils an auspicious purpose. The impulse to adorn stems from a deep rooted sensibility to mark every occasion of life with auspicious symbols, designs and figures to obtain good fortune and protection from evil. Thus a fully bedecked woman evokes in the viewer a deep and ingratiating feeling of tranquil contentment, springing from an intuitive realization that evolving before him is an image of perfect beauty, symbolically conveying the richness and completeness which is but natural to nature.

If it is true for humans that to beautify the mind is to beautify the body, the converse is equally true: to beautify the body is to beautify the soul. Creative Indian psychology nurtured a positive attitude. The desire to cultivate physical beauty was not considered shameful and superficial. The philosophers of love, like Vatsyayana in the Kama Sutra, advise that the art of makeup be practiced as a ritual. Even the 'plainest' woman adorns herself, she doe not resign herself to her fate that either one is beautiful or not, and there is the end to it.

The essential significance of the above exegesis can be summed up in the fact that in the canons of Indian art, whenever a lady was represented in the nude, i.e. without any trace of clothing, her glorified physical form always carried the same weight of jewelry which she would have worn, when fully clothed.

Thus rightly said A.K. Coomarswamy, noted authority on Oriental Art:

"One needs to be an Indian woman, born and bred in the great tradition, to realize the sense of power that such jewels as earrings and anklets lend their wearers; she knows the full delight of swinging jewels touching her cheek at every step, and the fascination of the tinkling bells upon her anklets"

This artwork was sculpted in Thammapatty, Tamil Nadu.

Of Related Interest:

Temple Carvings

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